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May 10th 2006
Published: May 15th 2006
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Two Poms in the big city 30/04/06 - 05/05/06

We arrive ahead of schedule and get through immigration incredibly fast, the longest queue is for Kiwis and Aussies, the everybody else aisle is almost empty. Amazingly the bikes have arrived on the same flight, we get them back together and entertain the crowds by removing many layers of clothing and emptying pockets before rearranging our bags and heading for the train station. As it is already dark we have decided to take the train to Central Sydney, rather than trying to navigate in a strange place in the dark. We reach the YHA and check in.
May Day, our first day in Sydney, we walk up George Street to get an appointment at the Travellers Medical and Vaccination Centre for malaria advice; the earliest they can fit us in is next Tuesday (9th May) so we are in town for a while!
We also find a map shop and pick up maps and a cycling Aus guide book before heading back to the hostel and trying out their rooftop swimming pool and sauna. Later we resume the hunt for decent beer outside the UK, sadly it's all cold and fizzy - ho hum, just have to keep trying!
On the 2nd we move hostels, to Glebe Point, it's in a quieter area of town, is a smaller hostel and is more friendly.
We spend a couple of days just mooching around Glebe, before taking our lives in our hands by cycling to Darling Harbour where we spend a while in the aquarium before heading to Circular Quay and the Opera House and back to the hostel.
The aquarium has a brilliant collection of sharks and the largest stingray we have ever seen, it's kind of freaky to watch it gliding over your head as you walk through a glass tunnel. Still haven't got any photos of Nemo though, clown fish are just to fast. We also get to see platypuses.
The Opera House is huge, I'm not sure what I expected, but I just though it was smaller than it is. It's an amazing building though.
On Friday the hostel has a barbeque and silly hair night, a lot of the blokes have their heads shaved, I try for getting mine dyed bright red but the dye doesn't take, so another "to do" still not done! Vern has a pretty spray job done on his.

Blue Mountains 06-08/05/06

We take the train up to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains for a couple of days, bikes travel free on trains and you just wheel them on, there are some hooks to hang them from, but once the hooks are full they just get leant against any available vertical bit - doors are a favourite because the bars can be wedged behind the handles so the bikes don't fall over, the doors don't open either, but hey, what's safety anyway?
We check in to the YHA and go for a walk to the Three Sisters, there is a route down into the valley, but it has 900 steps (yes, 900, that's not a typing error); we decide not to!

We try for an early night as we are both remarkably tired, sadly there is a group in the hostel who are having a "Saturday Night" we are kept awake by their singing, then they all head out to a night club, "Great" we think "a bit of quiet, we'll get to sleep now"; sadly they all return in groups of two, loudly, the first two at 1.30 am and the last two at 4.30 am. Somebody is going to die if I get my hands on them!
Incredibly by the time we wake up they have left the hostel, we're not the only ones who got disturbed and reception has had a lot of complaints.

We spend the morning at the cinema watching an Imax film of the Blue Mountains and the Wollemei Pine, a survivor from the time of the dinosaurs which was discovered there in the 1990s.
In the afternoon we walk to Katoomba Falls, but they are not very impressive because there has been very little rain here recently. The wind starts to get up a bit and we head back to town via the chocolate shop and cafe where we have "mix your own" hot chocolate made with chocolate drops and hot milk. By the time we get back to the hostel it has started to rain, so we really should be going to the waterfall tomorrow - typical bit of good timing by us there!

On Monday we ride back towards Sydney, down from 1000 metres to 30 metres in about 60km. It isn't as easy as we were expecting, we hit a couple of rolling for ages with no pedalling bits, but mainly we are up and down a lot. The road surface is a bit dodgy, with a lot of corrugations and pot holes to watch out for. Once we are clear of the mountains we get onto the Western Highway, although the drivers all give us a lot of space we're not too happy on a busy dual carriageway, so at Werrington we call it a day and head for the station.
Cue a customer service moment:
We find the ticket office and watch the ticket clerk reading his paper for a while before he wanders over to serve us, we ask for two tickets to Sydney which comes to 12 dollars, we hand over a 50 dollar note at which point he grouses " Haven't you got anything smaller, it's only 12 dollars?" I find a 5 cent bit and Vern digs around in his bar bag for all the change he has. We finally scrape together 12 dollars without having to resort to dubloons or gold teeth, he expresses absolutely no gratitude, passes the tickets to me and turns his back. "When's the next train?" "gmmgmph" "Pardon?" "gmmmph minutes" "What?" "EIGHT MINUTES" "Thank you". He then sighed a deep sigh of the "why are these people sent to try me?" type and returned to his paper. We're tempted to suggest that Intercity start a miserable git of the month award.

Any day now we'll be off to Cairns 9-10/05/06

On Tuesday we get stung for over 400 dollars to pay for anti-malarials and leave the clinic with no real idea of when we have to take them, I guess we'll be checking the Centre for Disease Control website then.
We wander aimlessly around Sydney for the afternoon, managing not to get lost and seeing a bit more of the city in the process. As cities go Sydney isn't so bad, it's loud, busy and impersonal but there's a lot of open areas and green spaces and the traffic is a lot better than in Auckland!
We are planning to leave on Wednesday morning, but decide to spend the day clearing up the blog from New Zealand. In the evening there is sangria and pizza served on the roof terrace of the hostel, along with a salsa lesson. We are sitting with a glass of drink each and two older women walk over saying "Is this where the oldies sit then, everybody's too young over there". So that's it then, it's official, we've been classified as old!
Still, the salsa lesson is a laugh and we get to dance with some youngsters!

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